Woman at desk, arms raised in victory

SPILL: A career coup in a chaotic year

  • December 04, 2020

In a year that prompted all of us to re-evaluate our roles, reconfigure our routines, and reconsider our priorities, many lawyers pursued new paths to professional development and enrichment. From education to certification, advancement to enhancement, volunteer service to self-care, we asked section executive members to share with us one good thing they did for their careers in this unforgettable year. Following are ten takes on making the most of unusual circumstances that we can all take to heart.

1. Take a leap

“When I initially came out of law school, I had a plan of opening my own practice after five years of being called to ensure I had enough experience. This year, I started my practice without even being one year out. Eight months later, it’s still the best decision I made.”

- Dan Fridmar, principal lawyer, Fridmar Professional Corporation

“In 2020, the best thing I did for my career was start my own firm. It’s allowed me to specialize on matters that I enjoy, nurture my own style of advocacy, and award me the freedom to make contrarian business decisions that other firms may not agree with.”

- Jennifer Chan, barrister and solicitor, JTC Litigation

“The absolute best thing I did for my law career this year was starting my own health law practice. When the pandemic hit, an intended-to-be-short career break to look after my family turned out a lot longer than planned. While I felt grateful to be able to help my kids with their online schooling in the spring, I also took the time to reflect on how I could get back to do what I love: helping health care professionals solve their legal issues. It didn’t take me very long to realize there was no better time than the present to make my dream of running my own technology-powered law firm a reality! I am excited to be able to offer legal advice and advocacy services to health care workers in this time of need.”

-  Carina Lentsch, laywer, ACL Law

2. Make space

“As a new lawyer, one good thing I did for my career this year (beyond getting called to the bar!) was figuring out how my workspace impacts my productivity. Having a dedicated work space and determining how to best separate my work space and my home space made a big difference for me.”

- Vanessa Carment, lawyer, Soloway Wright LLP

3. Gain a new designation and new focus

“I took advantage of the slowdown in April and May to finish my certified fraud examiner (CFE) designation. So, the extra study time was great. Even with things really busy since summer, I find myself more productive. I have a new focus on using my days more efficiently, so that I can spend time with our 14-month-old.  With the social distancing, COVID has taught me to use my days more productively.”

- David Milosevic, partner, Milosevic Fiske LLP

4. Listen and learn

“While 2020 brought new challenges, it also brought new opportunities. I took advantage of virtual learning, participating in webinars, listening to podcasts, and watching videos, particularly those exploring equity, diversity, and inclusion in the profession and society as a whole.”

- Laura Pettigrew, general counsel, Ombudsman Ontario

5. Get involved and give back

“This year, I volunteered extensively through Pro Bono Ontario and the Black Business Law Clinic. I was also elected to the OBA's Young Lawyer Division (Central) Executive and I am the section's current newsletter editor. These experiences have taught me so many new skills and have given me a new sense of purpose. It feels great to give back to my community and to meet likeminded people.”

- Angela Ogang, barrister and solicitor, AngeLAW

6. Recalibrate and recharge

“I worked from home which required a redevelopment of balance in my daily routine. I worked more efficiently and ensured I had enough time to take care of myself.”

- Jessie Gomberg, lawyer and LLM candidate, Osgoode Hall Law School

7. Advocate for yourself

“I negotiated a raise in March, just before COVID hit.  It was an uncomfortable subject to broach at first and went against my better instincts (I struggle with imposter syndrome), but I knew I’d been doing some good work for the organization and felt I had a compelling case to make. Apparently, my boss agreed!  I was really impressed with myself, particularly as a relatively young lawyer.”

- Anonymous

8. Seize the day

“In 2020 I became more grateful for the little things, and to find joy in the day-to-day process, rather than always postponing enjoyment for the future. Each day has been a lesson in improving my productivity, my health, and outlook on life. While the future has been uncertain, I have found comfort in knowing I can control and improve on my decisions each day.”

- Rocco G. Scocco, barrister and solicitor, Scocco Law Professional Corporation

9. Seek new opportunities to shine

“My major career change in 2020 was accepting a new role – this is my first time as a privacy professional in an inhouse tech company and I am very excited about this opportunity. I also became the newsletter editor for the OBA Privacy Law Section and participated in an online webinar about changes in the Canadian privacy landscape. “

- Sarah Nasrullah, senior privacy analyst, OpenText

10. Redefine and relish your successes

“Let go of expectations and learned to celebrate the small wins. They add up.”

- Nipuni Panamldeniya, lawyer, LXM Law